Thursday, January 20, 2011

Happy Birthday Your Royal Highness

When it was announced, in January 1999, that the Queen's youngest son Prince Edward would be marrying Sophie Rhys-Jones the chattering classes momentarily became the snickering classes; Prince Edward, of course, had always been the quiet one, demonstrably ill-suited to military service, theatrical even...

PhotobucketTheir wedding that June came at a time when the Royal Family was desperately in need of a 'New Diana', or so the tabloids said; the image of courtiers shuddering at the thought of another strong-willed neurotic whirlwind capable of wielding her popularity as a cudgel in their midst is one which amuses me still...

Originally determined to keep her job as co-founder (with Murray Harkin) of RJH Public Relations, in the end it was her own indiscretion (as much as the entrapment of the tabloid journalist Mazher Mahmood of News of the World) that, in 2002, finally put an end to the myth that such a thing was possible.

In fact, both the Earl and Countess had been drawing increasing ire for the perception that they'd been using their royal status to get ahead in business; the 'fake sheik' scandal merely proved the tipping point, whereupon they both withdrew from the private sector.

In recent years they have taken on an increasing share of public duties, especially in light of the Queen Mother's March 2002 death and the modest curtailment of duties by the Queen following her 80th birthday in April 2006.

Currently the chatelaine of Bagshot Park in Surrey, the Countess of Wessex is patron of Girlguiding UK and Colonel-in-Chief of the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps among others. Her Royal Highness has had three difficult births to date: the first (in December 2001) was ectopic and did not carry to term, the second (in November 2003) resulted in the birth of Lady Louise Windsor (who arrived a month early, but was otherwise healthy), the third (in December 2007) saw the arrival of the Queen's eighth grandchild James, Viscount Severn.
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